I can't remember a more eventful week. Eight epochal days starting with a terrorist act so heinous; so unfounded, so unbelievably evil that the perpetrator became instantly infamous. A Name that Shall not be Named. A name to frighten children and evoke America's long standing history of killing Black people. Nine souls, martyrs, lambs to the slaughter, innocents. Surely in the future the question "Where were you when the Charleston 9 were killed?" shall join those other seminal questions about the Kennedy Assassination and the Challenger Disaster. As the blood ran on those ancient antebellum bricks of Charleston, calls soon came to remove the Confederate Battle flag. A symbol of white supremacy and black fear that had flown continuously somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon since Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse 150 years ago. Then the flags came down. Like detritus shook from the feet of the future. Like a snake shedding its skin. States and retailers alike had finally agreed that the Civil War was at last over.
But the tectonic plates were only getting started. A social justice tsunami generational in scale was on its way. Our President's signature healthcare reform law; originally derided as, but begrudgingly accepted as, Obamacare was vindicated by the Supreme Court. On the same day the Fair Housing Act was up held ensuring that the feds could go after racial discrimination in housing even when it its not intentional. We learned a new term: disparate impact. Then within 24-hours we were celebrating marriage for all. Now anyone of any gender can marry any one of any gender in any state in this country. It seemed the world was changing right in front of our eyes. A swirling kaleidoscope, tumbling forward, then backward. We were caught in a spinning combine. It was emotional and it was dizzying. It was exhausting.
I have often said the internet democratized us. Anybody with wifi and a laptop can now become a wisdom chamber, filled with eloquent punditry. Or so we think of ourselves as we write our thoughts in the comments section. Each of us a digital blowhard. Usually this noise is something I can pick through; like looking for strawberries on a hot summer day, the cicadas in the background singing. The buzzing of insects is like that of vox populi; it simmers in the back of my mind but it never really disturbs me. I'd read a blog that is to my liking and discard the duds. But with the social cataclysm that occurred in America in the last week the noise became too much. Pundits, professors, TV personalities, social bloggers, Facebook groups, cousins, that guy in the next chair at the barbershop all had varying opinions, each as passionate as the next. Some were spot on, some were convoluted. But the sheer volume of debate coalesced into a brain-shattering chop suey of words; a cacophony of think pieces, status updates, hashtags, comments, memes; epic battles of dim wits with heavy usage of animated gifs to prove their points. We have been buzzfed, Upworhtied, Briebarted and Huff Posted ad nauseam. Everybody and when I say everybody I mean every-fucking-body had to weigh in on every-fucking-issue!
By the time President Obama finished eulogizing Rev. Clementa Pinkney, singing "Amazing Grace", the heavens opened up in an eruption of judgment and conjecture. Over the last nine days every word anybody has publically spoken on any of these subjects were dissected. Pulled about, gone over with a fine-toothed comb. President Obama went too far on race or he didn't go far enough. He was too soft, he wasn't soft enough. He was bombastic. He used his bully pulpit. He missed this opportunity. Then came the dissenters. Republican presidential candidates made hysterical pronouncements of doom over gays getting married. This was the final hour of man because jiggery pookery was used on something only God can concretize. People spewed invectives. We charged each other with willful ignorance. One screed after another after another. Social media was awash with liberal intellectual outrage. I felt like I had been dropped down into a pit of tigers or vipers. Hissing and growling their displeasure, ready to devour me at any grammatical or logical misstep. It was overwhelming. And this coming from a person who got a U (unsatisfactory) in behavior in the second grade because my teacher told me I liked to debate every word she said.
People have a right to their opinions. Everybody has a right to express them. But can we get off our soapboxes for just a few seconds. The racial/ gender/ sexual orientation carrousel will keep spinning. As the president said in his eulogy "We talk about race all the time." The problem is we don't do anything about it. So instead of writing a blog to let the world know how angry you are over injustice, how about writing a blog on how to cure it. Or better yet finish your latte, close your laptop and go boldly into the world and affect the change you have been complaining about. If the president or your congressman or your pastor or your transgendered-same-gender-loving-non-conformist-evangelical-Southern Pride-Sons-of-Confederate-Veterans-common law spouse ain't doing it the way you want it done then do it yourself.
In the words of Grace Lee Boggs, social activist,
"Rebellions tend to be negative, to denounce and expose the enemy without providing a positive vision of a new future...A revolution is not just for the purpose of correcting past injustices, a revolution involves a projection of man/woman into the future...It begins with projecting the notion of a more human human being, i.e. a human being who is more advanced in the specific qualities which only human beings have - creativity, consciousness and self-consciousness, a sense of political and social responsibility."